Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Rare, Surreal Find Along Oregon, Washington Coast: Red Towers

Published 02/06/21 at 4:56 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Rare, Surreal Find Along Oregon, Washington Coast: Red Towers

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – One of the stranger winter finds along the Oregon coast would have to be the “red towers” - surreal, reddish formations that come in an endless variety of shapes and sizes. Red towers don't even have to be towers, and in fact they're frequently something else entirely. They can often show as odd little, winding chunks of crust.

To some they'll look like a drawing out of Dr. Suess; to others they'll resemble the striking album art of Roger Dean and the Yes albums of the ‘70s.

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; some specials in winter
In Cannon Beach:
Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
Some specials for winter
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Some specials for winter
In Lincoln City:
Some specials for winter
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
Some specials for winter
In Newport:
Look for some specials
In Waldport
Some specials for winter
In Yachats, Florence
Some specials for winter
Southern Oregon Coast Hotels / Lodgings
Reedsport to Brookings, places to stay; winter deals

Essentially, they're rather rare and only show up when sand levels get extremely low. Even then they're not around for long. Red towers can't take the tidal action very well and usually disintegrate within a few days to a week or so. Right now, however, there is that possibility to find them wherever there's newly gouged-out beaches, especially if the bedrock is showing. With some reports of ghost forests happening around the Oregon coast this last month that's a hint. If you see ghost forests they could be near.

Some areas of the Washington coast may also present these, depending on the geology of the area.

However, the year-round ghost forest of Neskowin won't yield these sights. Sand levels don't get low enough there.

What are the red towers?

It's a fairly simple but eyebrow-raising explanation, according to Seaside geologist Tom Horning.

Basically, beach sand is cemented by red iron oxide, formed beneath feet of sand layers, likely ten feet or more.

“Minerals cement the sands together to form reinforced, irregular bodies within and under the beach, which are then exposed to the casual observer when the beach is washed away,” Horning said. “Not uncommonly, the tops of the towers are exposed first, and rocks will wear these away, creating little pot-hole craters that make attractive landforms for photographers.”

Those minerals and structures are present beneath beach sands all the time, and only when the sand levels get dug out low enough do they show up. Then it's not long before they're gone.

With most of storm season wrapped up, you're chances of finding them are greatly diminished. But not impossible.

Where to find red towers on the Oregon coast?

See the full gallery of these below

Arch Cape and Hug Point south of Cannon Beach are known for producing these on occasion if ghost forests and bedrock are showing there. They've been spotted on the central Oregon coast even more rarely at ghost forest sites like Moolack Beach.

On the southern Oregon coast the criteria would be the same: bedrock and / or sand levels that have dropped suddenly because of storms. It is, of course, not guaranteed anywhere.

In the past, Oregon Coast Beach Connection has collected a variety of interesting examples in-camera. No two formations are ever the same, so no year's appearance of them is ever similar either. Just like the Vulcans on Star Trek say: “Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.”

Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - Where to eat - Map - Virtual Tour


More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

Coastal Spotlight

LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

A Deeper Dive into Oregon Coast's Dungeness Crabs at Netarts Bay, April 28
Friends of Netarts Bay WEBS puts on the event. Oceanside events, Garibaldi events, Pacific City events
Don't Touch Baby Seals Now on Oregon Coast - Pups Also Bring Increase in Kill...
It's seal pupping season, which also brings killer whales. Marine sciences
SOLVE Still Seeking Volunteers for Oregon Spring Cleanup on Coast, Elsewhere
It runs through April 22 with the beach on April 20. Newport events, Lincoln City events, Pacific City events, Rockaway Beach events, events, Seaside events, Astoria events, south coast events, Florence events
Octopus Tree Atop Cape Meares: History, Hikes, Rumors of the Oregon Coast Celeb
Near Oceanside: how old, is it the tallest, shape, freaky facts, rumors
Man Arrested for Showing Gun During Road Rage Incident on Central Oregon Coast
Police remind the public to take care on busy coastal roads
Tillamook County Deputies Recover Body of Man Missing After Clamming in Netar...
A visitor from New Mexico drowned while clamming
South Oregon Coast's Gold Beach in Middle of Hidden Glass Float Month
Some 250 of them are set down each week in April
Lincoln City's New Brewery Trail Allows Digital Discovery of Oregon Coast Beers
Tap and Brew Trail lets you explore beverages and win

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted